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Teresonic Magus Silver XR Bookshelf Speaker Review

Jack Roberts & The Flight of the Mini-monitors, Part 7

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Teresonic Magus XR Lowther DX-65 DriverLowther’s worldwide debut of the DX-65 driver in the Teresonic Magus XR

A new driver from Lowther is real news. A new five inch driver is even rarer news, so it was with great anticipation that I waited on this pair of speakers to arrive. It was the Teresonic Magus XR with the new Lowther DX65 driver. XR stands for eXtended Range, and is the first speaker to implement the new DX65 driver to extend the capabilities of small speakers in multiple parameters: frequency response, efficiency, imaging, etc. Below is a brief technical description of the new DX65, and for a reference the same information about the DX55 that comes standard in the Teresonic Magus and other fine speakers.

Specification Comparison:                                                                           
DX55 DX 65
Overall diameter 17.4 cm 17.4 cm
Overall Depth 7.2 cm 8.6 cm
Depth from Rear of Mounting Frame 6.6 cm 7.8 cm
PCD Mounting Centres 15.6 cm 15.6 cm
Baffle hole cut-out 14 cm 14 cm
Magnet Ring Diameter 9.0 cm 9.0 cm
Voice coil diameter 3.9 cm 3.9 cm
Voice coil impedance (nominal) 4, 8 or 15 ohm 4, 8 or 15 ohm
Nominal impedance 8 ohm 8 ohm
Minimum impedance 7.2 ohm 7.2 ohm
Nominal Power Handling 100W 100W
Emission piston area 10.550m M² 10.550m M²
Air gap width 1.0 mm 1.0 mm
Air gap height 5.0 mm 5.0 mm
Magnet type Hi-Ferric’™ Rare Earth Hi-Ferric’™ Rare Earth
Flux density (1 Tesla=10,000 gauss) 2.0 Tesla 2.2 Tesla
Diaphragm Twin-paper Twin-paper
Frequency response 80 Hz – 22 kHz 80 Hz – 22.5 kHz
Nominal air resonance 80 Hz 89 Hz
Sensitivity at 1m/1kHz/1watt 94 db 95 db
Maximum voice coil travel ± 1 mm ± 1 mm
Suspension compliance 648.224u M/N 689.604u M/N
Total Q Factor 0.191 0.202
Electrical Q Factor 0.22 0.22
Mechanical Q Factor 1.355 2.236
Equivalent Volume Suspension 0.011M³ 0.011M³
Effective Moving Mass 4.623 g 4.623 g
Shipping weight 2.5 kg 3.0 kg

This review is mostly about the difference the new Lowther DX65 makes compared to the DX55 when mounted in a Teresonic Magus cabinet. So you really need to read the recent review of the Magus Silver DX55. Teresonic dubs this version of its Magus mini-monitor the Silver XR.

Why Lowthers

On the home page of the Lowther website right next to the picture of Paul Voigt, it says:

“Since the early 1950s, Lowther has exported over 90% of its manufacturing to audiophiles worldwide. In almost every country in the world there are discerning music lovers demanding only the very best sound reproduction possible, these are Lowther owners. ‘Lowther for life’ means just that, as once heard, nothing else can suffice. Those that have “strayed” return to Lowther stating no other speakers can do what Lowther can, which is to ensure that the listener hears pure music, oblivious to the presence of speakers in the listening room.”

Paul Voigt was born in London in 1901. His first job was with the J. E. Hough Ltd company. It was part of Edison-Bell works in 1922. Paul Voigt developed several new products for them, including a slack diaphragm condenser microphone, a high flux energized speaker drive unit and horns using the “tractrix” contour. In 1926 he developed the first British electric recording system. In 1933 Voigt started his own company, “Voigt Patents”.

He released the “Domestic Corner Horn” in 1934 and it was considered to be a new benchmark for high quality sound reproduction. Another very significant thing happened in 1934 when Paul Voigt met O. P. Lowther, and a strong friendship was formed. In 1936, there was published a Lowther sales brochure entitled “Lowther-Voigt Radio”. It detailed three radios, separate amplifiers, tuners and loudspeakers. The most ambitious system used a 12-watt amplifier and the deluxe Voigt domestic corner horn loudspeaker. I could go on but if you’re interested, you can go to the Lowther Museum site and read to your heart’s content.

Let’s just say that for over seventy years, the name Lowther has been synonymous with quality single-driver speakers systems. They have had many famous users and it is absolutely amazing how the sound gets under your skin. So when a company with this kind of history and following releases a new product, its news, and I promise you the DX65 is big news.

Description

Other than the drivers, the Magus Silver XR is identical, except for a little internal mounting differences, to the Magus Silvers I just reviewed. The only difference you will notice is that like the DX4, the Lowther DX65 driver uses the ‘doorknob’ phase plug, and if you pick it up you will notice how much heavier it is. It is heavier simply because the DX65 uses a much larger magnet. There is no other difference to describe, except the sound, so let’s get on with it.

Break In

I should know, because by no means is this my first set of Lowthers, but it is really amazing how long they take to break in. This may be the first time I ever had a pair of Lowther drivers this new though, and I tell you even with the filter in and turned to its highest setting, I found the DX65s pretty bright and peaky for the first couple of hundred hours. I listened to the pair downstairs in the reference system for a couple of hours and just couldn’t take it, so up they went to the TV system. At first, I even had complaints from the rest of the family about how bright they sounded up there, but we endured and just left them playing music off Direct TV almost 24/7. The exceptions being when I was listening downstairs or when we were watching TV, but of course they were still playing then. I don’t really know how many hours it took but after a week or two they were no longer bright with the filter turned on. Then, one day after about six weeks, I tried them sans filter, and they were better, but not quite ready. Another two weeks rolled around and one day I notice they sounded a little lifeless; I turned the filter all the way down and bravo they were done. So, it was time to take them back down stairs and listen for real.

Setup

I listened to the Teresonic Magus Silver XR both upstairs with digital sources played through the Roksan Caspian M Series-1 integrated amp, and downstairs in the reference system with the Wavac EC300B, Shindo Masseto preamp, and the Clearaudio Anniversary Wood CMB turntable with the Miyabi Standard phono cartridge. I also had the excellent Ypsilon CDT and DAC 100 digital system in the downstairs system while I was doing this review. In this system, I used the Magus Silver XR right on the floor as well as on their own stands.

Let’s start with the setup and how the Magus Silver XR sounded in the reference system. I had never set them on the floor before, but one day when Mike Zivkovic of Teresonic came over to see how they were sounding, that’s where he insisted on putting them. I was amazed: How could a speaker this small setting down on the floor sound so big? They were simply overwhelming, really, you might want to listen to them on the floor, too.

Of course, I also listened to them on their own stands and I will start by describing how they sounded when set up correctly on their stands. I found they sounded best in the same location the other Magus had. That is about eighteen inches from the side walls and about a foot off the front wall. When I set them on the floor, I put them in exactly the same place. I put their front two spikes in and left the rear one out so as to angle them up. I place them this way on a maple slab and they were amazing.

Compared to the Ingenium Silvers

Well, they sounded just like the Magus Silvers but only faster, quicker, more detailed, and more powerful. Compared to the Magus Silvers with the Lowther DX55, this speaker sounded turbo charged. With the DX65 drivers the Magus Silver XR come much closer to my Ingenium Silvers than I would have ever dreamed possible. Like I mentioned above, I was amazed when I move the Magus Silver XRs downstairs and put them in the place of the Ingenium Silvers. At first, I and other listeners were just amazed at how little you lost. We were equally amazed at the little speaker’s ability to throw a wide, deep, and tall soundstage, but there was more.

There was the transparency that is in the league with any speaker at any price. Then there was the immediacy, dynamics and aliveness from the mini-monitors that simply defied their size. I said in the review of the Magus Silvers, “It doesn’t matter if we are talking about the Quad ESL 57, the Ikonoklast Model 3 or the Auditorium 23 SoloVox speakers; I find speakers with no crossovers seem to share this sound in the midrange. It is interesting to me that even though the Quad ESL 57 is a low-efficiency electrostat, the Ikonoklast is a high efficiency speaker with a conventional, though very low mass, midrange/bass driver with a “Walsh” type tweeter, and the Magus and SoloVox are single-driver very high efficiency speakers; all of them share this midrange sound.”

Of course the Magus Silver XR with the DX65 shares this sound, but like Teresonic’s Ingenium Silver, it is simply more alive than those other speakers.

I’ve often said, the best thing I can say about a speaker’s treble is that I never even thought about it during listening. I can’t say that about the Magus Silver XR with the DX65 drivers, because they simply were airier, silkier, faster, and more extended that the treble of the DX55 drivers. Its treble performance simply defies the fact that it is a single-driver speaker.

Compared to multi-driver speakers with great woofers, especially powered woofers, the Magus Silver XRs are still bass shy and especially so if you pull the speaker too far out into the room. Positioned correctly the bass is very natural and quite satisfying, but let’s be honest, Lowthers don’t have a lot of very deep bass and especially when it’s a five-inch driver in a bookshelf size speaker. What they lack in quantity though, they make up for in quality. The bass is ever quicker, tighter, carries a great beat, much bigger, and much more powerful than the Magus with the DX55 drivers. The truth is that the bass is more than I would have ever dreamed possible from a speaker this size.

Like I said at the start of the review, the Magus Silver XR with the DX65 driver has incredible scale. I would feel this way even if they were floor standers, but for a mini-monitor it is simply unbelievable. I hate to say this because it downplays their abilities, but you just can’t overlook their diminutive size.

Summary

One of the remarkable things about both the original Teresonic Magus speakers and the Silver version was how wonderful they sounded with different amps and sources. This is not quite as true with the Magus with the new Lowther DX65 driver. To my ears, it simply is not as forgiving of transistor amps, at least not of less expensive ones.

I’ve had in some pretty fine bookshelf size speakers to listen too in addition to the variations of the Teresonic Magus speakers. I’ve had in the house and reviewed the beautiful and wonderful GamuT L3 at $7,700 with stand, the incredible Raidho Ayra C1.0 at $15,800 with stand, and the old faithful and great bargain B&W 805S speaker at $3,500.

The GamuT L3 costs about $1,000 more, but make an interesting contrast as it really needs power to come alive. It has a very refined and precise sound. To me, the GamuTs are what I think most people mean when they say speaker is musical in a positive way. The Raidho Ayra C1.0 is even more refined and reveals a more holographic soundstage than any speaker I have ever heard. They also go the deepest of this group of speakers. The B&W 805S speakers are the most affordable, and sonically most forgiving of this group. They are without doubt the best buy in this group, and my 25-year-old son who has great ears and loves music would rather listen to them than any of the others.

But for me, the Teresonic Magus Silver XR sound more like real music than any of the group and to me it’s not even close. The Magus Silver XR wins hands down in the areas of Pace, Rhythm, and Timing. It also wins hands down in terms of dynamics, and sounding alive. If I had room only for a speaker this size I wouldn’t have to think twice, I would have the Magus Silver XR; but I do have room for a bigger speaker so I have the Teresonic Ingenium Silvers. The big Teresonics are more effortless in recreating the air and delivering the power, although the Magus Silver XR never sounded strained or restricted to begin with. More importantly, the Magus Silver XR goes amazingly for a single, full-range driver in a cabinet literally small enough to sit on a bookshelf, it is amazing how much the Magus Silver XR sounded like my own reference, the Teresonic Ingenium Silver.

If the price of the pair of Magus Silver XR was comparable to the Ingenium Silvers and you have room for the six-foot-tall top model, all be it a very beautiful and elegant six feet, then the answer is simple: buy the Ingenium Silvers. But the Magus Silver XR costs $8,000 less than the Ingenium Silver, and the latter is nearly five feet taller than the Magus. So, I have to conclude that any of the Teresonic Magus mini-monitors are great for the money, and the addition of the new Lowther DX65 drivers gives you an even more high-end speaker with greater dynamic range in a small package. Although the new Magus Silver XR now costs $5,985 the pair it’s still much less expensive than many of the attempts at state-of-the-art small speakers, and I have heard none better than the Magus speakers with Lowther’snew DX65 drivers.

Manufacturer’s comments:

Thank you for such an in-depth review of the Magus Silver XR and Lowther DX65. As one of the first development labs to receive DX65 drivers from Lowther we quickly realized it’s more than a new driver. We have seen their potential, when used in an appropriate acoustical enclosure, to cross the boundaries of small speakers. The opportunity is to provide floorstander-like sound and true full range speaker for city apartments, smaller rooms, offices, home offices…

The significantly stronger magnet (one of the most powerful in any speaker), better overall Q factor and suspension compliance, and higher efficiency are just some of technical features that impressed us. But the real surprise awaited in listening tests: extended low and high frequency response, stronger and better defined mid and upper bass range, and much better balance (up to 10 dB) across the entire frequency spectrum.

When some of the first customers comments arrived: “[With Magus Silver XR] there is a very direct connection to the musical intent,” “Terrific imaging,” “Superb efficiency and a wider dynamic within a volume setting…”, we knew that a new standard for small speakers was about to be established. Although DX65 drivers are more expensive their superior sound qualities make the Magus Silver XR one of the finest sounding small speakers in any price range.

We decided to make available an upgrade for all Magus customers including a trade-in program for their existing drivers. The upgrade is simple on-site procedure and doesn’t require sending speakers back to the manufacturer for an upgrade. Rather than a time limited program, it’s going to be a standard offering so users can start with Magus or Magus Silver and upgrade to the XR model at any time.

Mike Zivkovic
Teresonic

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